Day Camp and Overnight Camp: Survival Guide for Parents and Campers
It’s summertime: warm weather, freedom from homework, and great summer camp experiences. Camp is an amazing opportunity for kids to learn independence and responsibility. When we go to “family camp” in the Wisconsin Dells each year, my husband and I challenge our kids and say that camp is about trying new things, even if they seem scary (my almost six year-old tried a zipline for the first time this year).
The Benefits Of Overnight and Day Camp:
Children meet new friends at camp and learn self-confidence along the way. At overnight camp, they also learn about responsibility and how to take care of themselves! But, summer camp may not be an easy transition for all kids (and their parents).
Avoid Homesickness by Staying Positive and Following Camp Rules.
Parents play an integral part in their child’s adjustment to camp. If parents are anxious about sending kids to camp, kids will pick up on that and they will then feel anxious.
Some Camp DOs and DON’Ts:
- DO stay positive about camp. Focus on all the incredible experiences your child will have at camp.
- DO look at the camp website together to see the smiling faces of past campers. Research all the available activities and help your child learn what his day will look like.
- DO visit the camp together before the first day.
- DO participate in pre-camp activities offered by the camp to meet other campers. Having a familiar face can make all the difference.
- DON’T tell your child that you’ll have a difficult time without him being home. This can make your child feel guilty that he is leaving you and that you can’t survive without him.
- DO allow him to enjoy this amazing experience.
- DO follow the visitation rules the camp has created, whether it’s day camp or overnight camp. Kids need time to adjust to camp and they do best when they can adjust with their fellow camp friends.
- DON’T show up at camp unless the camp allows a visitors’ day. When parents arrive while children are trying to adjust, it will inevitably lead to the child wanting to bolt out of the new environment and retreat back to the comforts of home.
- DON’T tell your child that if she doesn’t like camp, she can call you and you will pick her up. That speaks to your own anxiety about her being away from you at camp. If kids don’t know that leaving is an option, they will learn to acclimate to their new surroundings and be able to fully enjoy themselves.
- DO make sure that a letter (or email, if allowed) arrives when your child arrives at overnight camp. This lets your child know that you are thinking about him. But, make sure to stay positive in your letter. Ask questions about the kids in your child’s cabin, favorite activities, and what he is excited to try at camp.
- DO talk with other parents about their experiences and how they survived (the kids will be fine).